"No Votes For Em": Anti-Suffrage Illustration in the Popular Press

In contrast to Sloan, cartoonists for publications like Puck often used illustrations to mock the idea that women were worthy of the vote. Here, in three illustrations from the Delaware Art Museum's collection, we can observe a different approach to the argument. Sloan's illustrations depict women as masculinized, stylizing their bodies and dress in order to visually minimize the differences between men and women, in order to signal their mental and emotional equality to men on this issue. 

In these images, however, the artists take the opposite tack, depicting the women agitating for the vote as exaggeratedly feminine and therefore so different from men that they would never be suited to vote. 

When Women Vote, 1909, produced for Puck, Vol. 65, No. 1678, April 28, 1909
Gordon Grant (1875–1962)
Ink and gouache on illustration board
16 × 22 1/4 in. (40.6 × 56.5 cm)
Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Joseph P. Fraczkowski, 1988

In Gordon Grant's 1909 illustration When Women Vote (above), the artist asserts that women would never be intelligent enough to use the vote wisely, instead showing the women "voting" on hats rather than the issues of the day.

Leighton Budd's cartoon Votes For Women (below) shows a row of long-skirted suffragettes becoming easily confused upon rejection, their signs becoming mixed up, and their message becoming muddled, as they are turned away from a polling station.

Votes for Women, 1909, produced for Puck
Leighton Budd (active early 20th century)
Commercial relief process with hand‑coloring
11 × 7 15/16 in. (27.9 × 20.2 cm)

Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Helen Farr Sloan, 1979

Louis Glackens' And Yet She Asks For Her Rights! (below) contrasts the shrill femininity of the woman in purple with the bristling frustration of the men she has cut in line, arguing that women were actually subject to a favorable double standard: if a man cut other men in line, he'd surely be attacked. And yet this woman, who claims to be oppressed, clearly can do as she pleases without being beaten.

Notably, though, Puck would later change its tune: in 1915 the publication endorsed the cause of women's suffrage, exploring the issue in a dedicated edition of the magazine, which you can view here.

and yet she asks.jpg
And Yet She Asks for Her Rights!, 1912, produced for Puck, Vol. 71, No. 1835, May 1, 1912
Louis Glackens (1866–1933)
Commercial lithograph with hand‑coloring
14 5/16 × 11 1/4 in. (36.4 × 28.6 cm)

Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Helen Farr Sloan, 1978

Question to ponder:

  • How are illustrations used to take sides in political debates today?